While there are countless tools and techniques that'll help you use email to organize for success while getting more done in less time and quickly finding what you need, here are a few solutions I have found to offer the greatest results:
1. Shift your mentality from "checking" to "processing" your email so your email inbox is no longer a holding zone:
- Tasks taking less than 5 minutes should be done when the message is received while tasks taking longer should be added to your running to-do list
- Appointment requests should be moved to your calendar
- Reference emails should be quickly moved to personal folders
- Trash is not really junk and should be moved to the trash
2. If the average person needs anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes or more to really refocus after any distraction, don't make email a distraction; think of OHIO and "only handle it once" for each message, including reading and processing each email.
3. It is easier to quickly find what you need when you need it if you aren't searching through electronic clutter; therefore, there is no need to hold onto whatever is no longer accurate, applicable, useful or bringing you joy. Further, when determining what to save or delete, consider what can be easily located online later... There's no need to take up valuable space on your computer when you can easily find that information online whenever it is needed.
4. Send fewer emails to get fewer emails back. Although it sounds simple when stated like that, we are in a society trained to quickly shoot out an email when we need to tell or ask someone something. This can be excellent for having documentation of your communications; however, one simple phone call can element quite a bit of back-and-forth when the topic is more complex or when you need an answer to included questions.
5. Unsubscribe from eNewsletters you aren't reading; otherwise, consider culling subscriptions you maintain and stay up-to-date reading in a daily "roll-up" or "bundle" via Unroll.me.
6. Master the art of creating reference folders by having enough that each email to be kept has a home while limiting the number of folders so no one email could appropriately fit in multiple. If you struggle with where to file a message upon its receipt, how will you ever be able to locate it again later?
7. Utilize automated rules to sort email into folders... Highlight what needs time-sensitive attention by directing it into a folder designated to that particular sender or subject line topic. Cull together what can be attended to more conveniently on a later date and time, setting messages from that sender to bypass the inbox and go to a separate Personal Folder all their own.
8. Better employ all the features offered by your email management tool, like Delay Send, Send Again, Meeting Requests and renaming your received emails' subject lines.
9. If you have been emailing someone back and forth, each subsequent email contains all the content of the prior emails so keep only the most recent message in a conversation; in newer versions of Outlook, clear such clutter with the "clean-up" button on Outlook's home ribbon.
10. If an out-of-date email address keeps populating when you are trying to send a message, there are options for removing an erroneous email address. As you start typing in Outlook's "to" field, press the down arrow to highlight the erroneous address and, then, hit DELETE; in Mac Mail, populate the erroneous address in an new email message and, then, click the arrow on the far right to select "Remove from Previous Recipients". Problem solved!
I'm working on an eBook about how to "Use Email to Organize for Success and Get More Done in Less Time" and could use your input... What techniques have made it easier for you to management your email?